There are a lot of questions surrounding the trade deadline with which prospects are expendable and which are completely un-touchable. In my viewpoint, the only un-touchable prospects are those who are about to be promoted to the major league team. This year, the list would include Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon. Plain and simple, if a prospect has worked his way up the ladder enough to be held out until mid-June for a promotion that they deserve, you do not trade that prospect.
Polanco did not get traded and Taillon shouldn’t get traded even though he is injured. Everyone else at this juncture is fair game but there are different levels in which you may be OK with giving up a prospect depending on the return. As an example, what would the Pirates be OK with giving up to get themselves David Price? Obviously a lot because of how good he is and the impact he would have on the team immediately but also, he is under team control next season as well. If Tampa would help pay for Price, that would drive up the type of prospects they would get in return. In Price’s case, that really wouldn’t be needed.
Jon Lester is another big arm that the Pirates have been connected to and while he will cost a good prospect or two, since he is a Free Agent at the end of this year, the Pirates will be careful as to which prospects they give up to get him. Top closers in the game can return some really good pieces and late-inning relievers can get maybe a some B-C level prospects. I’m not going to go all sabermetric and WAR values because honestly, it’s just a bunch of numbers being floated around and I’m not a math wiz so I don’t want to touch that.
Here is the levels of Pirates top prospects that I view as being un-touchable to tradeable.
Jameson Taillon – Taillon would probably be in Pittsburgh right now if he didn’t have his injury and it’s unfortunate because he could have been that arm the team needs right now. Instead, he will be ready to come up next summer.
Tyler Glasnow – Glasnow has shot up the Pirates list of prospects and with Taillon out for the year and Polanco moved up to the big leagues, Glasnow is the Top Prospect in the Pirates organization. He is at the top and still only at Bradenton. Glasnow started the year on the DL and had some blips to start the season but has since recovered for the most part and has dominated High A. A promotion to AA and success would only increase Glasnow’s value for a great return if the Pirates were to trade him but these are the types of guys that put you into the conversation with a David Price to begin with.
Nick Kingham – Kingham is nearing ready to make an impact in Pittsburgh, possibly even a September call-up this season. Kingham could also be part of a very nice return for a higher level player the Pirates could use. Would Kingham for Andrew Miller work out, straight up? Possibly but who may feel like they are over-paying a bit? Miller is a free agent after the season and Kingham will be under team control for 6+ years.
Josh Bell – Like Kingham, Bell is finally starting to realize his potential and getting much closer to the majors by being promoted to AA. They always say this is the hardest level for prospects to jump to so the early low numbers for Bell isn’t a big deal. I’m guessing he finishes out AA this season and maybe gets an aggressive push to AAA to start next season or possibly half season in AA and the rest in AAA but he should be ready to contribute at the big league level in the Summer of 2016 at the latest. I would expect Bell to be moved to 1st base at some point unless he’s traded before then.
Austin Meadows – Meadows is looked at as the guy who will eventually replace McCutchen down the road. This is a guy who has all the tools in the world to be the next big thing come the Summer of 2018. Meadows could be had for the right return but it better be very good, otherwise, it’s a waste of future talent that Neal Huntington loves so much.
Reese McGuire – McGuire is the catcher of the future for the Pirates and as such, since there is not a lot of other prospects, not even Tony Sanchez, that show this much potential, both with the defense and the bat, it would be great if the Pirates could re-sign Russell Martin to a new 3 year deal and have him as the stop-gap to McGuire.
Well, These Guys Could Be OK to Let Go
Alen Hanson – Hanson was once looked upon as being ahead of or a good rival to Polanco in terms of his bat potential. The question with Hanson has always been whether or not he could stick at SS and have a higher value than if he moved over to 2nd base. Hanson has had some ups and downs at the plate but he’s a solid hitter, has some power, has excellent range but his defense is shaky at best but still shows signs of being legit. The biggest worry with Hanson at this point is the troubles he seems to be having hustling all of the time.
Tony Sanchez – Sanchez has long been the guy expected to take over at catcher for the Pirates but with some shaky defense still at this point in his development and Reese McGuire the heir apparent, Sanchez could be traded if the Pirates felt they can keep Russell Martin for a couple-few more years. It’s a shame too because Sanchez is one of those guys you just root for and his bat isn’t too bad either.
Harold Ramirez – Ramirez is another toolsy outfielder, cut in the same type of cloth potentially as Polanco. Last season, Ramirez hit .285/.354/.409 – 11 Doubles, 4 Triples and 5 HR’s in 274 AB’s. He is still developing his power and can play all three outfield positions. With the Pirates outfield potentially being set for several years, this is part of the surplus the Bucs have.
Andrew Lambo – Lambo has always been a fascinating case as he was once a top prospect, then he was in the doghouse for his drug problems that have been documented. He was traded to the Pirates and once again found himself as a really good prospect. So much so, the Pirates had him penciled in as the left-handed part of a starting platoon at 1st base. Unfortunately, Lambo couldn’t get his bat going in Spring Training and he was optioned to start the year. Then, he went on the DL and was out for a bit of time with a hand injury. Now Lambo is back in AAA and hitting once again and with any luck, he could get another shot at the big leagues or be used as a trade piece for a team that can take a chance on him.
Stetson Allie – Allie has been well-documented about being a power starting pitcher when he was drafted to dropping off the face of the Pirates universe and converted to an infielder. Since then, Allie has gotten promoted all the way to AA and while he has been struggling a bit there, he has shown a ton of power so far and could eventually work his way up the ladder even further in a year or two to the big leagues. What could turn Pirates fans off about Allie is that he is somewhat the right-handed version of Pedro Alvarez playing 1st base.
Rack Em Up and Move Em Out – For a Good Deal!
Luis Heredia – Heredia has been kind of a special case as he’s still so young that being in West Virginia is quite the feat for him. However, he has struggled a lot, with his weight and with his control that the Pirates may want to ship him out while he’s still a name. If they feel as though he could reach the potential that got everyone so excited about him to begin with, then you stick with him and develop him further and hope he finally starts to realize the potential that made him a top 16 year old signing a few years ago.
Joely Rodriguez – Rodriguez has had a roller coaster season thus far as certain times, he looks fantastic and other times, he looks not so fantastic. Rodriguez is in Altoona and has had some success and could be packaged up with someone to sweeten a deal.
Casey Sadler – Sadler has been a fantastic piece in AAA Indy and despite some rocky games recently, Sadler could also be a nice piece to be included in a package to sweeten a deal. The Pirates could also look at moving him to the bullpen for long-relief and spot starter duties but other teams, Sadler might be a nice piece at the back of a rotation who’s ready to go now.
So there you have it, most of the Top 20 prospects who have not been drafted this year and not including a lot of guys who below Altoona except the top guys. Trades are interesting to see worked out and I would love to be a fly in the wall to know what others teams are looking for. There are guys at every level right now that can somehow, someway help the Pirates, either for themselves down the road or for more immediate impact by being part of a trade. Let’s just hope the Pirates keep this type of farm system because it’s so much fun to watch the minor league games and see someone worth watching at every level.